April 17, 2001

Subject: CyberArte
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 10:21:48 +0100 (BST)
From: Greg Michaelson <greg@cee.hw.ac.uk>
To: jice@moifa.org, TMNunn@moifa.org
CC: almalopez@earthlink.net

I and my partner visited your museum during a trip to New Mexico from Scotland in March. I was very impressed by the Girard collection. I was also very impressed by the CyberArte exhibition, particularly the artists' skills in using new media to express classic artistic and ideological concerns.

I think that its very important that a museum commited to folk art should exhibit contemporary work, especially where it challenges normative ideas.

Doubtless, many of the items that Girard collected were shocking, especially to those from a traditional western Christian tradition for whom representations of death and sex were taboo outside of art galleries. In particular, the Girard collection has many representations of what traditional Christian would call false idols. Of course, for non-Christians, Christian representations are shocking and unacceptable in turn, and Spanish Catholicism in the "New World" was careful to integrate "pagan" practises into Christianity. Thus, the CyberArte exhibition, in particular Alma Lopez's splendid reflection on Our Lady of Guadaloupe, is an important contribution to a controversy which is as old as religion itself.

Thank you for a thought provoking experience. I also very much appreciated the friendliness and professionalism of your staff.

Best wishes

Greg Michaelson


Subject: Cyber Arte Exhibition
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 15:03:34 EDT
From: Blueskiesnm@aol.com
To: almalopez@earthlink.net

To: Alma Lopez - copy for your info.


We urge you to resist the efforts of a small group of religious conservatives to have Alma Lopez's work removed from the Cyber Arte exhibit.

Art should not be judged by its popularity or by whether it pleases or displeases a particular group, no matter how vocal. The removal of the Lopez picture would be an act of censorship and a capitulation to narrow religious interests. It would irreparably damage the reputation of the museum and be an affront to those of us who believe that no religious group or governmental entity has the right to censor art.

The argument for retaining the picture was well stated in a recent letter in Pasatiempo: "Alma Lopez's version of Mary is art in that it reflects a part of a culture that won't be denied. As such it has value. That's why the curators of the Cyber Arte exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art hung it in the first place. That's why it needs to stay there."

How true!

Lois & Marty Snyderman
Santa Fe, NM

cc: Dr. Joyce Ice, Ph.D.
Dr. Tey Marianna Nunn
Thomas Wilson
Dr. Edson Way
Alma Lopez
Mike Arnold


Subject: Our Lady
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 13:05:02 -0700
From: taylo048 <taylo048@csusm.edu>
To: almalopez@earthlink.net
CC: davalos@csusm.edu, tmnunn@moifa.org


I would like to send you a short note in support of your recent exhibit of Cyber Arte, especially "Our Lady," at the MOIFA in New Mexico. I found this particular piece to be not only very creative, but that it sent a powerful and important message regarding the strength of Chicano women and the importance of religion in their lives. In no way did I find the piece offensive. It is sad that so many people are unable to look outside their "box" and see what the world and its residents have to offer. Once again, I really enjoyed your arte and congratulations on a great exhibit.

Ted Taylor
Calif. State Univ. San Marcos
Visual Arts 323
"Chicano Art in the Border Region"


Subject: Santa Fe Exhibit
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 17:05:42 EDT
From: DavidDOUGH@aol.com
To: almalopez@earthlink.net

Please accept my vote of support for your right to express yourself through your art.


Subject: Greetings
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 17:49:32 EDT
From: FRENKELJK@aol.com
To: almalopez@earthlink.net


Dear Ms. Lopez:

I enjoyed seeing your Virgin Mary in the museum very much.  I feel that it might help if you issued a written statement explaining your point of view.

Perhaps, at the end of such a statement you could call for pride in tolerance of diversity, instead of a feeling of victimhood for an insult which you did not intend. If you sent it to the New Mexican and the Archbishop, asking that it be read and posted in all churches, it might make some people feel better.

I feel we should make it a little easier for the museum to keep your picture hanging. I think that were it not for the threat of the ACLU, they would be glad to have the conflict go away.

I hope to see your website next month.

My best wishes,

Jack Frenkel <frenkeljk@aol.com>


Subject: "our lady"
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 17:55:36 EDT
From: Dpuentes1@aol.com
To: almalopez@earthlink.net
CC: TMNunn@moifa.org, davalos@csusm.edu

April 16, 2001

Dear Alma Lopez,

I support your digital image titled "Our Lady" which is exhibited at the Museum of International Folk Art. Even though I have not seen it in person, I enjoyed it. I saw it as a symbol of strength to empower the young women of our generation.

Your image gives me strength. I feel that growing up with Mexican traditions, I was taught to have smaller goals in life because I am a woman.

I was raised to view the world through my future husband's eyes. That all the skills I acquired were to benefit my husband and not myself. Therefore my parents didn't encourage me to aspire high goals in life. My enrollment in college was optional. This image changes all the oppressive traditions that

I was blindly led to believe. With viewing your image I was able to put words together that expressed how I felt when I lived with my parents.

I view your image as a tool to enlighten our culture. Even though the image has minimal clothing, I don't view it as sexual. Sex has nothing to do with this work. I feel opponents of the piece see it as sexual because of the continuos portrayal women as dirty and shameful through the media. She is simply wearing clothing of our time. I feel that her apparel and her mannerisms have made her a current lady. With this in mind, the viewer feels that "Our Lady" is someone that she can relate to.

The butterfly angel is not sexual either. I see it as a symbol of motherhood. It reinforces my idea that I don't have to choose between a career or having my own family. I am able to have both. I was told that motherhood and a career would never mix. Times have changed. Our children need mothers that are educated.

I hope more women can see your piece and be enlightened the way I have.


Diana Puentes-Rodriguez
Student at CSU of San Marcos



Subject: Hope all is well
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 18:35:53 -0700
From: anita quintana <quintana@swcp.com>
To: Alma Lopez <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Hi Alma,

How are you doing. I have been thinking of you alot lately and hope that this fanatical reaction to your piece has not effected you too much in LA. It is a shame that some Catholic Hispanics of Spanish decent in the Northern part of NM continue to persecute. The most horrific thing about all of this to me is that a very large percentage of the opponents at the Board of Regents meeting yesterday were from the church I was raised in!!!XXX!!! That behavior was NOT what I learned! I'm sorry you have to experience this and also I thank you for stirring them up.

Changes don't happen without someone rocking the boat.

Anyway I want to let you know I support you.

The following was my 3 minute speech in support of keeping your piece up:

My name is Anita Quintana. (I think I said I was from Northern NM but a had a short burst of stage fright! So I really don't remember) I am a Graphic Designer and Artist. And was the graphic designer for Cyber Arte.

It is no surprise to me that some members of the Catholic community of Northern New Mexico have reacted so passionately to the piece of art entitled "Our Lady" at the Museum. For the Catholic community she has symbolized Christianity and its teachings, so her image, as a symbol, is representative of something sacred to many people.

It is the symbolic meaning of her image that is sacred, not the image itself.

Icons, statues, and images have symbolic meaning. They are reminders of a belief or ideal. They are not the belief itself. The belief is within us not outside of us in an object.

Alma Lopez' piece entitled "Our Lady," in my opinion does not undermine the symbolic meaning of the image, it is a representation or interpretation of her personal relationship to La Senora. It stems from the same interpretations of the teachings that many of you here today opposing it were raised with.

So why has this piece of art elicited such passionate reactions? Has the meaning become second chair to the image? Is it because some still see women as possessions? As objects to be owned? Is it because some are actually claiming ownership of La Guadalupe?

This is a piece of art we are talking about. Not blasphemy. Not the quote, unquote devils work. It is an image not a belief. Not a possession. We cannot in this day and age allow art to be determined by religious organizations. Nor can we allow our beliefs to be only as deep as an icon. We need to uphold our right to freedom of speech. If we be believe in the love and compassion that La Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe represents then we need to treat each other with that love and compassion and not be judgmental of how she appears to us.

We have a unique opportunity today to work together to understand each other. To be mindful of our evolving world. To accept differences. To create a healthy community. We, as a people, regardless of our nationality, religious choices, political party, sexual preference, whether we are male or female need to evolve and work TOGETHER to create a healthy world. We are an evolving organism. Why stunt our own growth by allowing different ideas of the same beliefs to divide us? We CANNOT continue to separate, isolate, judge, and discriminate. We can in this day and age allow each other freedom of expression. It is ok to express our feelings and it is ok to create art in any way we feel we need to.

We CANNOT control each others actions or expressions, only our own. We CAN accept differences and still maintain our beliefs.

Thank You.Anita:)


Subject: The Virgen
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 21:59:58 EDT
From: JulianOlaf@aol.com
To: almalopez@earthlink.net
CC: hedy_trevino@hotmail.com


Again, I am e-mailing you and pleading with you to PLEASE take the 'digital photograph' back to California!

A true Catholic does not offend, you have injured a whole community seriously.

We can only go so far as tempting it's removal, the cry of the people is reaching the very throne of heaven and asking for intervention.




Subject: La Virgen
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 19:30:38 -0700
From: "lopez juan" <somosaztlan@hotmail.com>
To: <almalopez@earthlink.net>

Ms. Lopez, I wanted to send you a copy of the letter I sent to Mr. Villegas.  I met Mr. Villegas in Santa Fe while I was student at the College of Santa Fe.  I want you to know that I support your work and believe that you have a right to show it.  Please hang in there, we need women like you to be role models for our young people.
Jose, I was astounded by your defense of the Catholic Church.  I wonder what your feelings are as you worship at the Cathedral in Santa Fe and as you pass by the statue of Bishop Lamy.  Bishop Lamy was a racist, having called your people (New Mexicans) infidels.  I wonder what your feelings are when you attend a religious service being led by a man (priest) who does not want to include women as contemporaries.  I wonder what your feelings are for the Church who has a history of treating our women as second class citizens.  I wonder what your feelings are on worshiping in a church which has a history of supporting colonization and of genocide.  I wonder why you would not condem and try to change the very church you are supporting.  Why don't you speak against the above mentioned topics.  I wonder what you will say to me.  I wonder what will happen when the very sacred right of freedom of speech is taken away from you.  The very same freedom that you would like to take away from Alma.  Por favor, lets begin to talk about the very issues you are so quickly to condem.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
I lived in Santa Fe for three years, and I remember you as a man who stood up when others did not want to.  I remember you being a man to speak for others who were afraid or who were intimidated.
I value your right to free speech, lets not condem others who express themselves through art.